*On Wednesday, May 19, 2010, over 500 guests attended a special viewing of Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted by the Museum’s director Thomas P. Campbell, president Emily K. Rafferty and The Met’s Multicultural Audience Development Initiative (MADI) under the direction of Donna Williams, chief audience development officer. The rare exhibition runs from April 27 through August 15, 2010 and is made possible by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation. The viewing was followed by a picturesque reception on the Great Hall Balcony of the Met.
The exemplary exhibition is composed of 300 masterworks by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) and provides viewers with an exceptional opportunity to see one of the most important collections in the world of the artist’s work.
This unprecedented exhibition provides viewers with an elite eye view of the remarkable array of works by Picasso in the Met’s collection including holdings of the legendary artist’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics — never before seen in their entirety — as well as a significant number of his prints.
Fans of the famous painter will be regaled by some of his most illustrious works of art including: the pensive harlequins of his Blue and Rose periods, the faceted figures and tabletop still life of his Cubist years, the monumental heads and classicizing bathers of the 1920s, the raging bulls and dreaming nudes of the 1930s, and the rakish musketeers of his final years.
The enchantment of the celebrated collection continues with a showcase featuring 34 paintings, 58 drawings, a dozen sculptures and ceramics, and an extensive selection of prints (some 200 from a total of 400), all acquired by the Museum over the past 60 years. The exclusive exhibition also includes many works on paper by Picasso that have rarely, if ever, been exhibited before at the Metropolitan.
The Metropolitan’s landmark collection reflects the full breadth of Picasso’s multi-sided genius as it asserted itself over the course of his long and influential career. The works range in date from a dashing self-portrait of 1900 (Self-Portrait “Yo”) by the 18-year-old Spaniard to the fanciful Standing Nude and Seated Musketeer (1968), created when the artist was 87.
The Museum’s relationship with the renowned artist dates back to Picasso’s iconic portrait of Gertrude Stein from 1906 — a bequest of the writer herself in 1946. This was the first painting by Picasso to be acquired by the Metropolitan.
Over the next six decades, the holdings were shaped by a succession of purchases and gifts from more than 25 donors, among them other pioneering champions of modernism, such as Alfred Stieglitz and Scofield Thayer, and such illustrious collectors as Florene M. Schoenborn, Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, and Jacques and Natasha Gelman.
The unprecedented collection is notable for its remarkable constellation of early figure paintings, which also include: Seated Harlequin (1901), from the beginning of his Blue period; at the Lapin Agile (1905), in which the artist depicts himself dressed as a melancholy harlequin; and a self-portrait from 1906 that reflects Picasso’s encounters with African and Iberian sculpture. Among the many other celebrated paintings in the exhibition are Woman in White (1923), The Dreamer (1932), and Dora Maar in an Armchair (1939).
Guitar students from the Manhattan School of Music set the fiery mood for the post reception with their choice of hot blooded Spanish music that filled the galleries, accompanied by Sangria and an ample selection of Spanish cheeses. Among the many distinguished guests included First Lady of the State of New York Michelle Paterson and Councilmember Michael Nelson.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Multicultural Audience Development Initiative reflects the Museum’s founding mission to educate and inspire by reaching out to all of its constituencies, including the many diverse communities that comprise the tri-state area.
MADI’s objectives are to heighten awareness of the Museum’s programs and collections, to increase participation in its activities and to diversity its visitorship and Membership. The exhibition will be featured on the Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org. (Photos credit: Ruth Hunt)
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.